Dictaphone corporation gave more prominence to the endorser
than to their product’s buyer benefits

You won’t learn much about the Dictaphone from this advertisement that describes the Dictaphone as a dictating machine.

More correctly it’s a machine that permitted persons— in this case A.L. Blakeslee, president and general manger of the Kalamazoo Stove company—to dictate letters to secretaries or typists.

The  Dictaphone wasn’t actually a single machine. It was three separate, stand-alone machines —the recording machine, the typist’s playback machine and the shaver. The advertisement carries this photo of the Dictaphone recording machine.

The shaver? It’s very simple. The recorder used a wax cylinder which could be shaved to permit the recording of more dictation. Alexander Graham Bell created this device and its friendly wax cylinders around 1879.

dictaphone machine

The headline asserts, without any explanation, that using the Dictaphone is “like opening a savings account for your own office.”

Mr. Blakeslee goes on the say: “There’s no telling in how many different ways the Dictaphone may serve you and benefit your office until you have actually experienced the ease of speaking your thoughts, alone, into this remarkable dictating machine.”

According to Mr. Blakeslee it simplifies, systemizes, coordinates, economizes. It’s a convenience to an entire staff!

“One of the greatest detail absorbers I have ever seen,” says Mr. Blakeslee.

That’s very puzzling. An absorber is defined as a vessel in which liquid is absorbed during distillation. An absorber extracts a substance from a gas by absorbing the substance into the liquid. Absorbers are typically tall cylinders in which the liquid flows down and gas bubbles upward.

“That is the Dictaphone story boiled down to facts,” Mr. Blakeslee concludes. “The multiple conveniences of this system are extended to an entire staff of workers, simplifying the duties of each individual, systemizing production as a whole. The result shows itself in the dollars-and-cents savings effected by absolute coordination from all hands.  In other words…practical economy.”

Apparently there is much to be said about the buyer benefits of the Dictaphone combination. The coupon at the bottom of the advertisement offers some solace to the curious business person who can send his/her name and address to the company because “I’d like to see how the Dictaphone can apply its economy and convenience to my office.”

It was 1930 when this Dictaphone advertisement ran in World’s Work, a monthly magazine, published between 1900 and 1932, that carried national news from a pro-business point of view.

Shaving the wax cylinders had to be done with care. Too much pressure would take too much wax off the cylinder: too little pressure and traces of previous recordings would remain on the wax. I should know. I was a little shaver!

Mr. Blakeslee was president and general manger of the Kalamazoo Stove Co. For 50 years, many an American kitchen or home had been heated by, or prepared family meals on, an appliance made in southwest Michigan.

You can read the history of the Kalamazoo Stove Co — HERE — in Museography, a publication of the Kalamazoo Valley Museum and Kalamazoo Valley Community College.  You’ll find the article on page 9.  Be sure also  to check the article on “A century of Automobiling in Kalamazoo.” It is a rare look into the invention and development of the automobile.